This season the team will be wearing Nike Hyperelite Uniforms, which are made from a thinner and lighter material than previous uniforms. The laser-cut perforations increase ventilation and Dri-FIT fabric helps wick sweat away so every player is equipped to stay cool, dry, comfortable, and move better. A more obvious change to the fans is the addition of the Washington State University fight song on the back of each jersey.
It’s that time of the year again, which means that we are diving head first into our annual NCAA tournament bubble watch.
The way that it will work is simple: We’ll be looking at every team that our Dave Ommen, the best bracketologist in the business, considers in the mix for an at-large bid. In an effort to keep this somewhat manageable, we are going to assume that the top 36 teams in the field — every team that is a No. 9-seed or above — is “off the bubble”. This does not mean those teams are a lock to dance, it just means that they have given themselves enough room for error that we can take them out of the conversation until they do something dumb.
So with all that in mind, let’s get into the full NCAA tournament bubble watch:
TOP 9: Duke (NBC: 2), Florida State (NBC: 2), Louisville (NBC: 4)
VIRGINIA (NET: 55, NBC: 11): Tomas Woldetensae hit a three with a second left on the clock to beat North Carolina (95) in Chapel Hill on Saturday. The Wahoos are now 17-7 overall with a 7-6 mark against the top two Quads thanks to this win. They do have three Quad 1 wins, but just one of them — Florida State (15) at home — is a surefire Quad 1 win to go along with a Quad 3 loss at Boston College (143). Perhaps the biggest issue is that UVA has just two potential Quad 1 wins left on their schedule. They can’t afford slip-ups, and could really use a win over Duke (6) or Louisville (7) next month. But as of today they are in a pretty good spot.
N.C. STATE (NET: 61, NBC: First four out): The Wolfpack landed their third Quad 1 win of the season by going into the Carrier Dome and picking off Syracuse (69) on Tuesday night, but they followed that up with their third Quad 3 loss, a 71-68 loss at Boston College (143). N.C. State has just one win over a top 50 team — a home win over Wisconsin (33) — but they do have those three Quad 1 road wins. Three Quad 3 losses weigh things down quite a bit, but if they’re going to get to the NCAA tournament, they can earn it this week when they host Duke (6) and Florida State (14).
TOP 9: Houston (NBC: 8)
WICHITA STATE (NET: 46, NBC: 10): The Shocker shook off a recent three-game losing streak with back-to-back impressive wins against the bottom of the AAC. They have beaten VCU (52) and Oklahoma (47) at home, and they don’t have any truly terrible losses, but with just three potential Quad 1 games left on their schedule — all of which are on the road — the Shockers need to get hot, and soon. I think they need to win two of at Cincinnati (51), at SMU (67) and at Memphis (60)
MEMPHIS (NET: 59, NBC: NExt four out): The Tigers are now in the midst of a three-game losing streak after losing yet another nailbiter at UConn (71). They’ve now lost their last three games by a total of 11 points, one of which came in overtime. In total, they have lost five of their last eight and seven of their last 12 games, and they are playing without D.J. Jeffries, their second-leading scorer. They have more Quad 3 losses (two) than Quad 1 wins (one) and the two best teams that they have beaten on the season are on the bubble. I don’t think this ends well for Memphis.
CINCINNATI (NET: 48, NBC: Play-in game): Cincinnati avoided disaster by beating East Carolina in overtime on Sunday. It’s their third straight overtime game: they beat Memphis (60) and home and lost at UConn (71). They’ve won seven of their last eight games and nine of their last 11, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are two major problems with Cincinnati’s resume right now: They don’t have an elite win and the best win available to them during league play is at Houston (29) in two weeks. They do have a pair of Quad 1 wins and an 8-5 mark against the top two Quads, but with three Quad 3 losses to their name, there is still some ground for them to makeup if they want to feel comfortable. They need to keep on winning, but the Bearcats are probably in the NCAA tournament as of today. My gut says they do enough to get there.
TOP 9: Dayton (NBC: 2)
VCU (NET: 42, NBC: Off the bubble): The Rams are in a terrible spot after losing three of their last four games, including a blowout loss at Richmond (45) on Saturday. Ig they do not beat Dayton (5) on Tuesday next week, than discussing the rest of their resume will not matter. They will not be a tournament team. We’ll talk Wednesday.
RHODE ISLAND (NET: 34, NBC: 11): URI did what they needed to do and picked off St. Joseph’s (237) at home on Saturday. They’re 19-6 overall and they have just one Quad 1 win, but they are 6-5 against the top two Quads. The loss to Brown (219) is ugly, but as long as URI avoids the landmines on their schedule, I think they can get an at-large even with a loss to Dayton (5) at home in March.
RICHMOND (NET: 52, NBC: Play-in game): The Spiders picked up a win in the toughest game they have left on their schedule, beating VCU (52) by 18 points at home. For my money, the Spiders’ at-large hopes are a longshot. I cannot see how they are going to be able to get enough wins to stay on the right side of the cutline without a win over Dayton (5). But stranger things have happened, and they could end up getting another shot at the Flyers in the Atlantic 10 tournament.
TOP 9: Baylor (NBC: 1), Kansas (NBC: 1), West Virginia (NBC: 5), Texas Tech (NBC: 8), Oklahoma (NBC: 9)
No one on the bubble.
Top 9: Seton Hall (NBC: 3), Villanova (NBC: 3), Creighton (NBC: 3), Butler (NBC: 4), Marquette (NBC: 6), Xavier (NBC: 9)
GEORGETOWN (NET: 43, NBC: Play-in game): Without question, the biggest bubble winner the week is Georgetown, who landed their fifth Quad 1 of the season and by far their best win of the year by going into Indianapolis and knocking off Butler (20). There are two major problems with Georgetown’s NCAA tournament profile: The first is that they already have ten losses, but some of that is explainable: They are 5-9 against Quad 1 opponents and 9-10 against Quad 1 and 2 opponents. They have played 19 games against top 75 teams. That’s a lot of good games, and a 9-10 record against them is hardly a bad thing. The other issue was a lack of elite wins, but they already had a win over Creighton (13) in their back pocket, and now they can add a road win over a top 20 team to the mix.
TOP 9: Maryland (NBC: 2), Penn State (NBC: 4), Michigan State (NBC: 5), Iowa (NBC: 6), Ohio State (NBC: 6), Illinois (NBC: 7), Michigan (NBC: 7), Wisconsin (NBC: 8), Rutgers (NBC: 9)
INDIANA (NET: 63, NBC: 10): Indiana is 16-9 on the season and 6-8 in the Big Ten, which is not ideal. Neither is their 1-6 record on the road. But the Hoosiers do have four Quad 1 wins and are sitting at 6-9 against the top two Quads without a single loss to a team that ranks outside the top 50. They’ve beaten three top 20 teams at home. Indiana fans are losing their minds, but they are in a better spot right now than they realize. Beating someone other than Nebraska (175) on the road would certainly make a different.
PURDUE (NET: 33, NBC: FIRST FOUR OUT): The biggest issue currently facing Purdue after losing at Ohio State (18) is that they now have 12 losses on the season, including a pair of Quad 3 losses, and the rest of their schedule is absolutely brutal. The most losses and at-large team has ever had is 15. For context, Indiana last season was 17-15 with six Quad 1 wins and nine Quad 1 and 2 wins and they were left out. Purdue is 3-9 against Quad 1 opponents and 7-10 against the top two Quads with a 3-7 record on the road. Their best road win is at Indiana (58). They’re in a tough spot right now.
MINNESOTA (NET: 40, NBC: Off the bubble): After blowing a late, eight point lead to Iowa (28) at home, the Gophers have lost four of their last five and five of their last seven games. They are 4-10 against Quad 1 opponents and sit at 6-12 against the top two Quads. Their 12-11 record on the season is certainly a problem, but their “worst” loss is DePaul (67) at home. The biggest red flag with Minnesota is that they have just one win away from home on the season — at Ohio State (15). They need to start winning, but they are in a place where getting hot for two weeks will be enough to get them up as high as a No. 8 seed. But they need to start winning now.
TOP 9: Oregon (NBC: 4), Colorado (NBC: 5), Arizona (NBC: 7)
USC (NET: 49, NBC: 10): I think USC is in a pretty good spot after sweeping the Washington schools in LA this week and doing so without Onyeka Okongwu. They only have two Quad 1 wins, but they are 8-6 against the top two Quads. The home loss to Temple (106) is not ideal, but it is survivable. They should be OK as long as they don’t do anything stupid down the stretch.
STANFORD (NET: 37, NBC: NEXT four out): The Cardinal lost their fourth straight game on Saturday night at home against Arizona (8). It was their seventh loss in the last eight games. They have an ugly Quad 3 loss to Cal (155) and just two total Quad 1 wins. Stanford will have chances down the stretch, but should we actually trust them to take advantage of those chances?
ARIZONA STATE (NET: 50, NBC: 10): The Sun Devils won their fifth straight game on Saturday night, winning at Cal (155) three days after they beat Stanford (37) on the road, their fourth Quad 1 win. They’re now 4-6 against Quad 1 opponents with three of those wins coming on the road. They are 7-8 against Quad 1 and 2 opponents and their “worst” loss is a Quad 2 loss at Washington State (107). Should I mention that they are tied for the lead in the Pac-12 with four other teams? Arizona State is in a good spot right now.
TOP 9: Kentucky (NBC: 4), Auburn (NBC: 4), LSU (NBC: 7), Florida (NBC: 9)
ARKANSAS (NET: 48, NBC: Next four out): The Razorbacks fell at the buzzer on Saturday when Mississippi State’s (53) Abdul Ado tipped in a missed shot with less than a second left. They ave now lost four straight games, are sitting with a 4-9 recorded against the top two Quadrants with just two Quad 1 wins — at Alabama (36) and at Indiana (63). They desperately need to get Isaiah Joe back.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (NET: 53, NBC: First four out): Abdul Ado made the biggest player of the year for the Bulldogs, tipping home a game-winning bucket with less than a second left on the clock in a 78-77 win at Arkansas (48) on Saturday. The enormity of this win cannot be overstated. For starters, Mississippi State only had one Quad 1 entering the day, and adding a second Quad 1 win means they now have the same number as their Quad 3 losses. But the bigger issue is that MSU’s schedule down the stretch features precisely one top 65 opponent. This was their last chance at a good win for their resume until the SEC tournament, and they got it.
ALABAMA (NET: 36, NBC: First four out): The Crimson Tide picked up an enormous win on Saturday, as they knocked off LSU (29) in Tuscaloosa for their second Quad 1 win of the season. Alabama is now 14-11 overall and while their 6-10 record against Quad 1 and 2 opponents is solid, a 3-6 mark on the road, a home loss to Penn (153) and just two Quad 1 wins is not a good sign. At this point, I think Alabama needs to win out during the regular season for the simple fact that their schedule is not all that strong. But they have a shot if they do.
SOUTH CAROLINA (NET: 65, NBC: Next four out): Suddenly, South Carolina is in the mix for the bubble. They are 7-7 against Quad 1 and 2 opponents with a trio of Quad 1 wins — Kentucky (24), at Arkansas (48), at Virginia (55). They do have a Quad 3 loss — Boston (152) — and a Quad 4 loss — Stetson (290) — so they do have some more work to do. With a schedule that includes a pair of games against Mississippi State and dates with LSU and at Alabama, they’ll have a chance to build.
TOP 9: Gonzaga (NBC: 1), San Diego State (NBC: 1), BYU (NBC: 7), Saint Mary’s (NBC: 9)
UTAH STATE (NET: 41, NBC: Play-in game): After beating Fresno State, the Aggies have won four in a row and seven of their last eight games, ensuring they are still in the NCAA tournament mix and fully turning around a season that looked like it was lost as recently as three weeks ago. Wins over LSU (27) and Florida (38) are nice, but with three road losses to sub-85 teams and no more chances to land marquee wins, how are they going to make up for those losses? They don’t play another top 100 team the rest of the season. I don’t see how they can get in without beating San Diego State (1) in the MWC tournament.
NORTHERN IOWA (NET: 40, NBC: 11): The Panthers lost at Loyola (94), which is hardly a bad loss, especially in the MVC, but I’m not sure that it is a loss they can afford. Their strong NET and wins at Colorado (17) and over South Carolina (66) on a neutral keep the Panthers in the conversation, but losses at Southern Illinois (151) and Illinois State (203) are killers. UNI cannot lose another game unless it is against Loyola-Chicago in the MVC tournament if they really want a chance at an at-large, and even then, it will be tough.
EAST TENNESSEE STATE (NET: 41, NBC: 11): ETSU has a win at UNCG (61) and a win at LSU (27). With a 20-4 record and a loss to Mercer (205) at home, the Buccaneers have to win out and lost to only UNCG or Furman (73) in the SoCon tournament to have a chance, and even that will be a bit of a longshot. They went 2-0 this week.
A new college basketball AP Poll has been released, and Baylor and Kansas just keep winning, setting up a monumental showdown Saturday between the top-ranked Bears and No. 3 Jayhawks that could help decide not only the Big 12 title but the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament.
The two teams were separated once again by Gonzaga in the latest college basketball poll from The Associated Press on Monday. The Bears (23-1) had 48 first-place votes from the 63-member media panel, while the Bulldogs (26-1) had 14 first-place nods and the Jayhawks (22-3) had the only remaining first-place vote.
“The best we could be right now is being the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament. We’re No. 2,” said Kansas coach Bill Self, whose team beat West Virginia and Oklahoma last week. “The reason we’re not No. 1 is Baylor beat us on our home floor. They deserve it. I’m not looking at it like we haven’t done as well as our record because we’re in second place. I’m looking at it like we played pretty good that day and got beat by a better team, and now we have a chance to get them back.”
The Bears and Jayhawks both have business to handle before they collide on Saturday, though. Kansas got a visit from Iowa State to Allen Fieldhouse on Monday night while Baylor will be visiting Oklahoma on Tuesday night.
If both win, it would set up one of the biggest games in the history of the Ferrell Center.
“I think it’s a tribute to the players, their belief,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “We’ve been operating under joy … (and) focusing one game at a time and we’ll keep doing that.”
San Diego State (26-0) remained the nation’s last unbeaten team and was No. 4 in the latest poll, while Dayton (23-2) climbed one spot to fifth after wins over Rhode Island and Massachusetts and a rough week for then-No. 5 Louisville.
“I told our team, `Let’s get greedy. Let’s play for perfection,”‘ Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said. “If we’re this close, we might as well play for a perfect regular season. … Let’s do something special.”
That’s exactly what the Flyers are trying to do, too.
“We’re trying to win a national championship,” Dayton guard Jalen Crutcher said. “We feel like that there’s no team in the country we can’t beat. We feel like we can go and win a national championship, and we talk about that a lot.”
The Cardinals lost to Georgia Tech and Clemson to plummet all the way to No. 11, but they weren’t the only ranked team to lose to an unranked foe on Saturday. Auburn fell at Missouri, Seton Hall lost to Providence, Butler lost at Georgetown, Illinois lost at Rutgers, Houston fell at SMU, Texas Tech fell at Oklahoma State and LSU was beaten on the road by Alabama.
Throw in then-No. 14 West Virginia’s loss to Baylor and nine ranked teams were beaten. Eight lost to unranked opponents, the most in a single day this season.
“This week wasn’t a good week for us,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said. “The teams we’re playing are too together and we’re not right now. It’s unfortunate, but it happens sometimes and my job is to keep our team on course and get better.”
The Penn State Nittany Lions moved up into the No. 9 spot, tying the school’s highest ranking ever in the AP Poll era.
Here is the full college basketball AP Poll:
4. San Diego State
8. Florida State
9. Penn State
16. Seton Hall
17. West Virginia
25. Ohio State
Others receiving votes: Texas Tech 92, Michigan State 87, Michigan 83, LSU 55, Rhode Island 39, Virginia 32, Cincinnati 14, Stephen F. Austin 14, Illinois 12, Northern Iowa 9, Utah State 8, Rutgers 6, Florida 6, East Tennessee State 5, Saint Mary’s 4, Tulsa 3, Richmond 3, SMU 2, New Mexico State 2, Wright State 1, Arizona State 1
Here is today’s updated NCAA tournament bracketology projection.
Heading into January, a good over-under line for how many Big Ten teams would make the NCAA tournament field felt like 9.5. It still does. If you were hedging your bet today, which way would you go?
Here’s what we do know about some potential Big Ten bubble teams:
- Minnesota is an even 12-12 on the season.
- Purdue is 14-12 with a trip to Wisconsin up next (then three of four at home).
- Indiana has lost five of six games and three of its next four are away from Bloomington.
- Illinois has lost four straight and heads to Penn State this week with Ayo Dosunmu’s status as day-to-day.
- Rutgers is 1-8 in games played outside the RAC with three of its final five away from home.
Today’s biggest beneficiaries of a chaotic bubble are Utah State and Richmond. Whether the Aggies and Spiders can hold their at-large spots may depend as much on those behind them as it does on their own performance.
Anyway, here is today’s updated NCAA tournament bracketology projection. If you’re looking for the NBC Sports Bubble Watch, it can be found here.
The latest look at where our NCAA tournament bracketology projection stands …
UPDATED: February 17, 2020
|FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
|MIDWEST REGION||Utah State vs. Richmond|
|SOUTH REGION||Cincinnati vs. Georgetown|
|SOUTH REGION||RIDER vs. NC CENTRAL|
|MIDWEST REGION||PR VIEW-AM vs. ROB MORRIS|
|SOUTH – Houston||MIDWEST – Indianapolis|
|1) BAYLOR||1) Kansas|
|16) RIDER / NC CENTRAL||16) PV-AM / ROB MORRIS|
|8) Illinois||8) HOUSTON|
|9) Florida||9) Saint Mary’s|
|5) Colorado||5) Butler|
|12) Georgetown / Cincinnati||12) Utah State / Richmond|
|4) Auburn||4) Louisville|
|13) NORTH TEXAS||13) VERMONT|
|6) Ohio State||6) Iowa|
|11) Virginia||11) NORTHERN IOWA|
|3) Creighton||3) Villanova|
|14) NEW MEXICO ST||14) WRIGHT STATE|
|7) Wisconsin||7) Arizona|
|10) Arizona State||10) Wichita State|
|2) DAYTON||2) MARYLAND|
|15) WINTHROP||15) AUSTIN PEAY|
|EAST – New York||WEST – Los Angeles|
|1) SAN DIEGO STATE||1) GONZAGA|
|16) UC-IRVINE||16) MONTANA|
|8) Rutgers||8) Texas Tech|
|9) Oklahoma||9) Xavier|
|5) West Virginia||5) Michigan State|
|12) LIBERTY||12) S.F. AUSTIN|
|4) KENTUCKY||4) OREGON|
|13) YALE||13) AKRON|
|6) Marquette||6) Michigan|
|11) Rhode Island||11) EAST TENNESSEE ST|
|3) Penn State||3) SETON HALL|
|14) COLGATE||14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST|
|7) LSU||7) BYU|
|10) Indiana||10) USC|
|2) DUKE||2) Florida State|
|15) HOFSTRA||15) LITTLE ROCK|
|Last 4 Byes||Last 4 IN||First 4 OUT||Next 4 OUT|
|Rhode Island||Utah State||Mississippi State||South Carolina|
Top Seed Line
Baylor, Kansas, Gonzaga, San Diego State
Breakdown by Conference …
Big Ten (10)
Big East (7)
Pac 12 (5)
Big 12 (5)
West Coast (3)
Atlantic 10 (3)
Mountain West (2)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Marcus Garrett, Kansas
Marcus Garrett played the best game of his life on Saturday.
Oklahoma decided that what they were going to do defensively was to try and take away Udoka Azubuike by using whoever was supposed to be guarding Garrett to park in the paint and double Doke as quickly as possible. Garrett was going to have to prove that he would be good enough to make the Sooners pay, and honestly, it wasn’t a bad strategy. Entering Saturday, Marcus Garrett hadn’t made a three since January 14th. He had only attempted a single three in the month of February. In his last 14 games, he was 3-for-17 from three, combined.
On Saturday, he hit six threes en route to 24 points, adding seven assists and four steals in an 87-70 Kansas win.
We know how good Garrett can be on the defensive side of the ball. I think there’s an argument to be made that he is one of the five best defenders in all of college basketball. But when he is a threat like this offensively, it changes the dynamic of this Kansas team.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Maryland Terrapins
After sneaking past Nebraska at home in a game that was much closer than it should have been, Maryland turned around and landed one of the best, and most unexpected, wins of the college basketball season on Saturday.
The Terps jumped out to a 39-24 lead in the Breslin Center on Saturday night, but they gave it all back and some. The Spartans responded by going on a 36-14 surge that put them in front 60-53 with just over three minutes left to play. This one was over, and everyone knew it, except for Maryland and Anthony Cowan. Maryland closed the game on a 14-0 run, hitting four straight threes to spoil what should have been a fantastic Gameday experience for everyone in the building.
Cowan scored the final 11 points during that surge, hitting three threes and capping off the run with a pair of free throws to ice the game, and suddenly the Terps — who, a month ago, couldn’t win a game on the road — are on an eight-game winning streak that has them sitting all alone in first place in the Big Ten. They’re a game up on Penn State and three games up on the rest of the field, and four of those eight wins have come away from College Park, including wins at Indiana, Illinois and Michigan State.
It’s time to take this team seriously as a national title contender.
1. LOUISVILLE IS GOING TO BE JUST FINE
Look, Saturday’s loss at Clemson was bad.
The Cardinals made five shots in the first half. They shot 15.6 percent from the floor for the first 20 minutes of the game and trailed by as many as 21 points, falling behind 42-21 midway through the second half. Combined with Wednesday’s loss at Georgia Tech, the Cardinals have torpedoed any chance they had at earning themselves a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. They went from sitting all alone in first place in the ACC regular season standings to a game behind Duke, who does not have to play either Louisville or Florida State again this season.
So yes, in terms of accomplishing everything that Louisville had a chance to accomplish this season, this week was a disaster.
But it was also one bad week for a team that does, truly, have all the pieces they need to win both the ACC and NCAA tournaments. I still believe that. We know how good Jordan Nwora can be when he’s right, and while he’s decidedly not right at the moment — in two games this week, he shot 2-for-11 from the floor, 1-for-9 from three and finished with a total of seven points while getting benched late on Wednesday and at the start of Saturday — that doesn’t mean he can’t get back to where he was. David Johnson has been a revelation even if he has his something of a freshman wall. Dwayne Sutton is still competing. Malik Williams is still competing. Chris Mack is still Chris Mack.
The season is far from over.
And hey, given the way this year has gone, there’s certainly no guarantee Duke will win out even if they don’t play anyone all that tough.
2. SETON HALL, TOO
Everything that I just said about Louisville is also true about Seton Hall, who followed up a loss where they gave up 87 points to Creighton with a loss at Providence where they trailed by 25 points in the first half.
The good news for the Pirates is that they are still leading the Big East title race, and while the rest of their schedule is brutal — they have to play at Marquette and Creighton and still host Butler and Villanova — the Pirates have already won at Butler and at Villanova and beat Marquette at home.
Their issue, according to Kevin Willard, has everything to do with attitude.
“We have some guys with bad attitudes right now to be perfectly honest with you,” Willard said in his postgame radio interview after the Providence loss. “When you have a bad attitude and you’re pouting and complaining that you’re not playing enough time yet your team is 10-2, you have issues.
“It’s amazing to me that, when we lost to Xavier I saw a team that bounced back and was hungry to go to Georgetown and get it. When we lost to Creighton the other day and we played terrible (in practice), and I’m sitting in practice and I’m thinking, I’ve got a guy moody that doesn’t want to go through practice who hardly played. I have another guy who played 25 minutes that can’t make a shot and didn’ have a rebound. I have another guy that got embarrassed defensively.
“I will make sure of it, come in 20 minutes that there will be a very large correction . . . The bench is going to get shortened. Either you’re going to show up and play or you’re not. I’m really disappointed in a few guys who, either they regain their focus or I’ll just play six.”
Willard did not name the grumpy-gus, but it’s worth noting: Myles Cale was a starter last year and played just seven minutes against Providence. Ike Obiagu played just five. Anthony Nelson played just two. Draw your own conclusions.
3. PATRICK EWING IS THE BIG EAST COACH OF THE YEAR AND IT’S NOT CLOSE
I don’t think that there is any way that Ewing will win the National Coach of the Year award because one of Scott Drew, Brian Dutcher or Anthony Grant has that covered.
He should, however, win the award for Big East Coach of the Year. Think about everything that this Georgetown program has gone through this season. They had two players transfer out of the program in December, a decision that led to NBC Sports breaking the news that one of those two players had accusations of assault and harassment hanging over his head, and that two more members of the team — both of whom would later leave the program — were involved as well.
That’s when the injuries started. Mac McClung has missed five games — including Saturday’s visit to DePaul — with a lingering foot issue. Omer Yurtseven did not play on Saturday, either, meaning that the Hoyas were down to just five scholarship players.
And they went into Indianapolis and knocked off No. 19 Butler, giving them an elite win and putting them in a position where they have a bit of room to spare when it comes to getting to the NCAA tournament.
It makes no sense.
And yet, here we are.
4. SHAKA HAS LOST THIS TEXAS TEAM
The Longhorns took on Iowa State in Ames on Saturday and got absolutely humiliated, 81-52, in a game that more or less locked Texas out of the NCAA tournament.
As one longtime Big 12 beat writer put it, “that was the worst Big 12 performance I’ve seen since a winless TCU team.”
I’ve already had plenty of conversations about who Texas will hire as their next coach, and I’m not the only one.
5. BAYLOR IS THE BEST BECAUSE THEY CAN LOSE A KEY PIECE AND STILL ROLL
MaCio Teague is Baylor’s second-leading scorer at 14.4 points. He’s one of their better three-point shooters and the best guy on the roster not named Jared Butler at creating his own shot. He did not play on Saturday against the second-best defensive team in the country in West Virginia, and it did not matter.
No. 1 Baylor rolled to their 22nd consecutive win, knocking off the No. 14 Mountaineers, 70-59, in a game that they led by 28 points in the first half.
And that, more or less, sums up everything that you need to know about this Baylor team. They are good enough, and balanced enough, that they can lose their second-leading scorer, a critical piece to their offense, and not even miss a beat against one of the nation’s very best teams.
A new college basketball top 25 is now live.
We talked about this a bit on Friday’s podcast, but I want to put it into print form.
One of the narratives of this season is that there are no great teams in college basketball. It was one of the biggest storylines back in November and December as so many of the teams that we thought would be really good this season went through struggles, and the fact that we rolled through seven No. 1 teams in the AP poll only drove that point home.
Now that we’re in mid-February, things have started to shake themselves out, and what we’ve learned is that early in the season we just didn’t actually know who the best teams in the sport were. Now that we do, there are some teams that have started to gain separation on the field. It’s pretty clear that Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas and San Diego State are the heavy favorites to earn the four No. 1 seeds, and that point is driven home by the fact that the only loss any of those teams have suffered since Christmas came when Kansas played Baylor. Duke is rolling. Maryland is rolling. Dayton is rolling. Up until this past week, Louisville and Auburn were rolling, too.
Put it all together, and as of today, it’s pretty clear who the best teams in the country are, and it’s made doing a top 25 every week much easier than it has been in the past. I haven’t had to think all that hard about the top ten in about six weeks. I will say, that has been nice. Doing a top 25 every week can be a drag.
Having said all that, while there are some great teams in the context of this season, I don’t think that there are any teams here that we are going to be talking about as one of the best college basketball teams of *enter arbitrary cut-off point here.*
Part of the reason I say that is the lack of NBA talent on these rosters. Take, for example, the 2018 Villanova team that won the title. For my money, they are the best college basketball team that I have seen since I started doing this, and four of the five guys that started on that team are now starting in the NBA. That doesn’t include Omari Spellman, either.
Or how about this: Compare this Gonzaga team to last year’s Gonzaga team. Last year, they had two first round picks in Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke, a top 40 pick in Zach Norvell and an All-American point guard in Josh Perkins. All of them were upperclassmen. This year’s team is really good, but their best NBA prospect — Killian Tillie — can’t stay healthy and their second-best NBA prospect — Joel Ayayi — was enough of a question mark entering the season that Mark Few felt the need to go out and recruit two grad transfers to provide insurance at his position.
Don’t get me wrong, this Gonzaga team is very, very good.
And when compared to the rest of the country this year, we can probably call them great. The same can be said about Baylor, and Kansas, and maybe even San Diego State.
But as much fun as they have been to watch this season, putting them in the same conversation as the great teams from past season is a step too far.
Anyway, here is the rest of the NBC Sports college basketball top 25.
NBC SPORTS COLLEGE BASKETBALL TOP 25
1. BAYLOR (23-1, Last Week: 1)
2. GONZAGA (26-1, 2)
3. KANSAS (22-3, 3)
4. DUKE (22-3, 5)
5. SAN DIEGO STATE (26-0, 7)
6. DAYTON (23-2, 8)
7. MARYLAND (21-4, 10)
8. FLORIDA STATE (21-4, 6)
9. PENN STATE (20-5, 19)
10. LOUISVILLE (21-5, 4)
11. AUBURN (22-3, 11)
12. KENTUCKY (20-5, 12)
13. OREGON (20-6, 13)
14. SETON HALL (18-7, 9)
15. VILLANOVA (19-6, 15)
16. CREIGHTON (20-6, 21)
17. WEST VIRGINIA (18-7, 14)
18. IOWA (18-8, 16)
19. COLORADO (20-6, 20)
20. MICHIGAN (16-9, 24)
21. HOUSTON (20-6, 17)
22. ILLINOIS (16-9, 18)
23. MARUQETTE (17-7, 23)
24. BYU (21-7, NR)
25. OHIO STATE (17-8, NR)
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 24 BYU, No. 24 Michigan
DROPPED OUT: No. 22 LSU, No. 25 Michigan State